GENEVA, Switzerland, Nov. 28 (UPI) -- Syria's military and security forces committed "gross violations" of human rights and crimes against humanity in the crackdown on protesters, a U.N. panel said.
The Syrian government is "responsible for wrongful acts, including crimes against humanity, committed by members of its military and security forces," stated the report by the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, established in August by the U.N. Human Rights Council.
The report, presented at a Geneva, Switzerland, news conference, called on the Syrian government to halt immediately "gross" human rights violations and to bring to justice those who committed them.
The council established the three-member commission to investigate alleged violations of international human rights law in Syria since March, when pro-democracy protests began.
The 39-page report documents what a U.N. news release called "patterns of summary execution, arbitrary arrest, enforced disappearance, torture, including sexual violence, as well as violations of children's rights."
"The substantial body of evidence gathered by the commission indicates that these gross violations of human rights have been committed by Syrian military and security forces since the beginning of the protests in March," the report said.
Under international law, crimes committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack against civilians, with the perpetrators aware their conduct is part of this attack, constitute crimes against humanity, the U.N. said.
"The commission is thus gravely concerned that crimes against humanity of murder, torture, rape or other forms of sexual violence of comparable gravity, imprisonment or other severe deprivation of liberty, enforced disappearances of persons and other inhumane acts of a similar character have occurred in different locations in the country since March," the report said.
More than 3,500 Syrians have been killed since the start of the protests, the United Nations said.
Meanwhile, Syrian Finance Minister Mohammad Nidal al-Shaar criticized the Arab League's decision to impose sanctions on Syria, saying they will affect all people in the region.
"These sanctions will, in addition to the Syrian citizen, hurt every Arab citizen that deals with Syria," the Syrian daily as-Safir quoted al-Shaar as saying Monday.
"Sanctions, which include the Central Bank, will hurt all citizens because central banks across the world are agents for citizens and not states," al-Shaar said in a report in The Daily Star in Lebanon.
On Sunday in Cairo, foreign ministers of the Arab League agreed to impose economic sanctions on Syria in response to the failure of President Bashar Assad to halt violence that has been raging in the country since March.
In response to the sanctions, Syrian state news agency SANA reported, thousands of people gathered in Damascus and Aleppo to condemn the Arab League decision and to reject foreign interference in the country's internal affairs.
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe told France Info radio that time was running out for Assad's regime, Britain's Daily Telegraph reported.
"Its days are numbered, and that is obvious. It is totally isolated today … Things are going slowly, unfortunately … but they are advancing since the Arab League, which carries considerable political weight, has just decided on some sanctions, which will isolate the Syrian regime a bit more," Juppe said.